Curlew Forum Newsletter 3, 31 August 2017

From a rooftop in Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire (Gordon Kirk)


This third Newsletter since the “Call of the Curlew” workshop, held at Slimbridge on 2 February 2017, brings a first overview of the results of the 2017 Curlew breeding season in the dozen regions of southern England featured in that workshop.  It presents a familiar and unhappy story of pairs taking up territory and attempting to breed, but meeting with very limited success: a very rough calculation from the figures below (even though they are far from complete) suggests a minimum figure of 28-33 fledged chicks produced from about 200 nests (for details see last page); it must be emphasized that these figures for chick production are only rough and represent an absolute minimum, since in many regions, the observations are carried out by part time voluntary field-workers; even so, the general tendency to poor chick production is clear.  In future years it would be good to attempt a more coordinated attempt across the regions to gather more systematic data: exactly how many territorial pairs? how many nests? how many fledged young produced?  Nevertheless, there are some encouraging signs: successful use of a variety of techniques (web cameras, thermal telescopes, electrified fencing, temperature loggers); greatly increased knowledge of the birds’ distribution and breeding biology; increasing support among the farming community for measures to protect nests; above all, perhaps, growing general desire to conserve the remaining lowland populations of this enigmatic and iconic species.

As in previous numbers of this Newsletter, the bulk of the content is made up of reports from regions of southern England where Curlews still nest; many thanks to the leaders of each regional group for providing this information.  Contact has been made with Curlew watchers from Exmoor, covering both Somerset and Devon, who have provided large amounts of historical data (summarised below); it is hoped to find an Exmoor representative for the Curlew Forum.

Given the increased number of nests being found in southern England, another obvious action would be to increase the number of BTO Nest Record Cards completed; is an NRC completed for every single nest found?  This should surely be a basic data-gathering activity; not too late for 2017!

A major development since the previous Newsletter is the establishment of a website under the title “Southern Curlews” at  This website aims to provide information on breeding Curlews in southern England, to act as a repository for presentations (all the talks given at the Curlew workshop in Slimbridge are available, together with a series of other seminal papers on Curlew biology), to provide advice, and to act as a central point for pictures, artwork, sounds, opinions and ideas. Enormous thanks are due to the webmaster, Richard Beal, who has been indefatigable in devising new ways of enlivening the website.  Please take a look, and encourage any bird websites in your area to set up a link to the site. The website also provides details of the workshop on the status and future of the Curlew in Wales, to be held at Builth Wells in January 2018, under the auspices of Natural Resources Wales and other bodies.

Plans are well in hand for a limited meeting of the Curlew Forum in early October, involving representatives from the regions of southern England; this meeting will provide input to the UK and Ireland Curlew Action Group meeting later in the month, will plan for further action in the 2018 Curlew breeding season, and will reflect on how the Southern Curlew Group should operate in future.

As always, any comments on the Newsletter, the website and the broader topic of breeding Curlews in southern England can be forwarded to

Notes from the regions on breeding Curlews: July and August 2017


Two territories on Bodmin Moor: one at the southern end of Colliford with birds using Common land, farmland and private South West Water holding; the other possible territory was within two miles of Colliford, to the north of the A30 (open Moor). Due to difficulty in locating birds, given challenging visibility/terrain over the area as birds moved around, and the time needed to follow them, their breeding status is unclear. We hope to have more luck next year.

Claire Mucklow:



As noted in the second Newsletter in June, four pairs occupied territory and at least one pair nested. Really disappointed with this season but on a positive side the National Park and the Duchy of Cornwall are very much more robust on accepting issues of predator control around the Curlew.  The other growing problem is photographers: we’ve had more examples of photographers homing in and looking for nesting Curlew. It’ll be interesting to hear if this is an issue elsewhere –  Its obviously more of an issue of open access land.

Jon Avon:


The following note is an extract from the very extensive information on both the Somerset and Devon sectors of Exmoor, recently received from David Ballance; as much of this information as possible will be posted in due course on the Southern Curlews website.

“The northeast sector around Dunkery and Chetsford Water has always received disproportionate coverage because of its easy road access.  The first attempt to make a complete survey of all actual moorland in the park was in 1978; this was repeated in 1992/93, 2002, 2008 and 2014 and organised by RSPB.  These have been supplemented since 2006 by annual coverage of fourteen walking routes, mainly for about 15 target species, including Curlew, though they do not cover all likely sites for the species; this is the Exmoor Monitoring Project, which is supported by observers from the Somerset Ornithological Society, Devon Birds and the Exmoor Natural History Society.  All records are channelled to the Recorders of the three Societies and a selection are published in their annual bird reports.”

The map gives an overview of Curlew records from the 2008 and 2014 surveys; green dots are for 2008, red dots for 2014, and report simply presence, not necessarily breeding, of Curlews.

The map gives an overview of Curlew records from the 2008 and 2014 surveys; green dots are for 2008, red dots for 2014, and report simply presence, not necessarily breeding, of Curlews.

The map illustrates dramatically how Curlews have decreased on Exmoor.

David Ballance adds that survey work on Curlews has been published in Humphrey Sitters’ “Tetrad Atlas of the Birds of Devon” (1988) in his own “History of the Birds of Somerset” (2006) and “The Birds of Exmoor and the Quantocks by Balance, Gibbs and Butcher (2016).  Sitters noted that the population in Devon was restricted by a considerable loss of habitat. The Ballance 2006 volume called the species an ‘uncommon breeder’ and noted that Exmoor breeders in Somerset had begun to decline in about 1970, and by the 1990s had become confined to heather moorland. The 2016 publication calls the Curlew uncommon as a summer visitor, now on the verge of extinction.  Perusal of the recent county bird reports up to 2015 for the two counties shows very few records of potential breeding birds.


Somerset Levels: West Sedgemoor

This is a summary of what we found in the 2017 breeding season:

  • We found that the O’Brien and Smith (1992) methodology over-estimated our breeding population by up to 100%. The figure of 40+ pairs for the Levels that we have been quoting is much nearer 20 pairs. (The total for the Levels for 2017 is 3-4 pairs on Kings Sedgemoor plus 1-2 pairs on Wet Moor, so 4-6 pairs plus the West Sedgemoor pairs, only about 15 pairs this year because several pairs were missing – probably because it was too dry). Disappointing, but it’s better to have a robust figure to work with.
  • A number of traditional territories were not occupied, and it seems likely that several pairs either didn’t turn up, or left quickly, probably linked to drier than normal conditions. We recorded very few unpaired birds early in the season, with all the birds we observed paired and on territory by the end of April.

Fitting radio tag to Curlew chick, West Sedgemoor, June 2017 (Richard Archer)

  • Most territories were centred on fields with large areas of unimproved MG8 and MG13 vegetation, where botanical diversity is high, sward density remains relatively low through the chick foraging period, and invertebrate densities are also high. Most territories were found away from the main droves, i.e. away from regular human disturbance.
  • We located 8-9 Curlew nests through intensive observation and field searches. We are pretty confident that we found 90%+ of nests, with all fields visited a minimum of 4-5 times from mid-April to mid-June. Some 70% of nests were predated, mostly at night, most probably by fox. Applying the Mayfield correction factor suggests a predation rate of only 7%: we believe this is not accurate and doesn’t take into account the intensive search effort. We estimate that the earliest laying date was about 18 April – similar to what Mike Smart found in Gloucestershire.
  • We managed to locate three sets of chicks, of which two had already hatched and left the nest. We radio tagged two chicks, but learnt a lot along the way about the importance of estimating hatch dates accurately and regular visits near hatching time. One of the two tagged chicks was predated at 22 days by a mammalian predator. The fate of the other isn’t known because the tag fell off after about 26 days, although it probably fledged. We located a small number of fledged juveniles in hay meadows and silage fields, and estimate conservatively that eight juveniles are likely to have fledged successfully from the moor this year. What this means in terms of population dynamics on West Sedgemoor isn’t entirely clear: nest predation rates seem very high and yet annual productivity of eight juveniles (or more) from an estimated 2017 breeding population of about 15 pairs suggests productivity levels of over 0.5 fledglings per pair. Given low levels of overwintering mortality among first/second winter and adult birds, could this be sufficient to explain the apparent increase in the West Sedgemoor population?

Tagged Curlew chick at 26 days showing healthy flight feather development (Richard Archer)

  • It has been interesting to trial the use of a thermal telescope to locate foraging chicks. After initial success, we were hampered by alarming adults causing chicks to hide amongst vegetation preventing us from picking them up. We’ll try to use the ‘scope next spring to locate nests and sitting birds, especially up to mid-May before vegetation starts to obscure the view into fields. This could save a lot of survey time in the breeding season. We estimate that it took 8-9 hours to pin down each nest, especially during the first search phase, when adults were visible in fields.
  • It has been great working with Leah Kelly, our MRes student from Leeds University. Leah will be starting a PhD on Curlew breeding ecology in the SW Peaks this autumn, a joint project between Sheffield University and the RSPB. Hopefully the highs and lows of tracking Curlew on the Somerset Levels hasn’t put her off!
  • We’ll be discussing how we take forward our work on West Sedgemoor with reserve staff this autumn. If possible, we would like to repeat some of this year’s work, especially looking again at nest predation rates and tagging and monitoring more chicks. We’ll be discussing management options to increase fox control on the north side of West Sedgemoor (the best area for breeding Curlew) and whether we can fence more gateways to discourage fox movement within the core breeding area. This is something we did this year on the south side of the moor to protect breeding cranes, with some success.

Richard Archer:


Severn and Avon Vales, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire

  • The results of the breeding survey in 2017 in the Severn and Avon Vales in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire were rather disappointing. Some 31-32 pairs occupied territories (roughly the same number as in previous years), but only three young birds fledged, one each from three broods, all of them along the Avon (against six broods with fledged young last year on both Avon and Severn). Practically all the occupied territories were at well-known, traditional sites in the Vales; it was very pleasing to confirm that at least one pair is still attempting to nest on higher ground in the Forest of Dean. The figure of 31-32 pairs does not include Curlews nesting in somewhat different habitats on higher ground between the Vales in central Worcestershire, where a number of pairs do indeed survive, if only in small numbers; these birds will be a focus of attention in future.  The present note is a provisional account; a more detailed report will be produced in due course, as in 2015 and 2016.
  • Coverage was better than in 2016, so that practically all the potential sites in the Vales were covered. Many thanks to all those observers who contributed data, and in particular to Mervyn Greening, Andy Jayne and Rob Prudden who took part in both 2016 and 2017; to Mike Liley, Ian Duncan and John Dickinson who provided extra records from Worcestershire in 2017; and to Juliet Bailey who has been recording the botany (and the birds) of the Vales for many years with the Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society; her input in 2017 provided valuable new insights into the Curlews’ habitat preferences.
  • In general, no special effort was made to find nests in the Vales, as many are located in large hay meadows, where there is a danger of damaging mowing grass and, more important, of opening up the way to predators like foxes, badgers and crows. Five nests were found, four with eggs, one with chicks; one was found by watching the adult back to the nest, the others by pure chance and good luck.  It would be good to hold discussions in the Curlew Forum about whether greater efforts should in future be made to find nests, to improve monitoring by use of temperature loggers (which would give precise information about when a nest is abandoned), or in order to take conservation measures at the nest (notably by erecting electric fencing).
  • Of the 31-32 pairs which occupied territories at traditional sites early in the season, at least six disappeared at an early stage and may not actually have made a nest or laid eggs; so, a more accurate figure for actual nesting attempts might be 25-26 pairs. It would be good to clarify the definition of what actually qualifies as a nesting attempt: does appearance on a territory early in the season qualify as a breeding attempt?  A long-lived bird like Curlew might well appear at a traditional site early in the season, but not carry on with nesting (perhaps because it had returned from the wintering grounds in sub-optimal condition, or because the conditions on the breeding field were not perfect); does this constitute attempted breeding?  Perhaps not, but it is undoubtedly worth recording.  BTO, for completion of Nest Record Cards, does not consider a nesting attempt to have taken place unless at least one egg is laid; so, without more direct evidence such as eggs, young, faecal pellets (or being certain that display is distraction display), a definite breeding attempt cannot be claimed.  Incidentally, in view of the decline in Curlew numbers, the Forum should encourage details of every nest found to be recorded on a Nest Record Card.
  • The four nests found with eggs were all predated; to judge from the behaviour of the birds (extreme alarm immediately after the presumed loss, less regular attendance in the nesting area) many more pairs lost their eggs or young in late April and more especially in May, probably to predators, but perhaps to poor environmental conditions or disease. Another indication of nesting failure was the presence in late May and early June, around several nesting meadows, of small flocks of to ten or fifteen adult Curlews, where there had previously only been territorial paired birds; these flocks are likely to be the birds noted in previous years and again this year at communal roosts near water; they were clearly made up of failed breeders.
  • At least three pairs are known to have lost their eggs or young during hay making activities, generally during the warm period in mid-June. It has been suggested by Curlew conservationists that hay might be cut from the centre of a meadow outwards (as happens for Corncrakes in Scotland), in order to allow the chicks to escape the mowing machines; farmers generally reply that this would be complicated and expensive.  One farmer who knew he had nesting Curlew on one of his fields purposely left this field uncut until the young had fledged, cutting only round the edges (the “headlands”) of the field and leaving a large uncut area as a refuge in the middle.
  • 2017 was an early season (probably because of the very dry conditions in March and April), with a full clutch on 19 April and the first young in the very last days of May.
  • In general, there are few records of replacement clutches in Curlew: unless they re-lay very early in the season, the long incubation and fledging periods mean that they don’t have time to complete the nesting process; but proof of one definite replacement clutch was obtained at a traditional site, where a nest with tiny newly-hatched chicks was present on the late date of 1 July (but this nest too fell a prey to predators). The first flying young were seen on 1 July (as against 9 July last year), all fledged birds had left by 14 July (23 July last year).
  • Very interestingly – and indeed, as in previous years – at least one bird of the year was found on migration through the Severn Vale in August. A juvenile was noted from 7 to at least 10 August (and perhaps longer) at a traditional breeding site; it could not have been locally bred since no adults had been seen there since the end of June; it fed on its own (when not being buzzed by the local resident Kestrel; would a Kestrel have buzzed an adult Curlew?); this suggests that migrating birds of the year, en route to wintering areas on the coast, must recognise suitable feeding sites in familiar habitat.
  • Greater attention was paid this year to the habitat in which the birds were nesting, and in particular to the botany of the nesting fields. Contrary to what has been said before, Curlews in the Severn and Avon Vales do not necessarily nest in the most botanically-rich hay fields, where the mature vegetation may be too thick for the chicks; this is a subject which clearly deserves further attention in future.  Their preferred nesting habitat seems to be in the lower lying areas of big open fields where the sward is relatively thin and the vegetation short (at least early in the season), apparently not nesting in fields with livestock, though the adult birds may feed or stand on guard there. Then, later in the season, adults and young use areas of short vegetation (sometimes cut strips in Lammas meadows), with taller uncut grass where chicks can take refuge nearby.

Curlew nesting habitat along the Avon, July 2017 (Juliet Bailey)

  • The photograph above shows a 15-hectare field along the Avon where one young Curlew was successfully raised in summer 2017 (and in 2016). The foreground shows a swathe of annual plants such as the mayweed daisies Tripleurospermum inodorum and Matricaria recutita in the part of the field where water lies longest in spring. This leaves patches of bare mud at the start of the nesting season that can easily be seen on satellite imagery on the internet. The rest of the field is semi-improved grassland, with abundant tussock grass Deschampsia cespitosa and other perennial wild grasses, but few forbs (flowers).
  • Close cooperation with Natural England and the Environment Agency has continued. Natural England has already called a meeting to discuss the results of this year’s survey, and to identify fields where the system of government grants could be used to encourage farmers to conserve Curlews.  The Environment Agency has continued to support monitoring of disturbance (both from weir refurbishment activities and by dog walkers) at the Severn Ham, Tewkesbury.
  • Many local farmers have expressed great interest in the survey, have allowed the team access to private land, and in some cases, have delayed hay-making to allow the chicks to fledge. We are most grateful to all of them.

Mike Smart:
Ian Duncan:



From a proof-of-breeding point of view results in Herefordshire have been disappointing. However, given that one of our aims this year was to thoroughly investigate all previous claims of Curlew presence from all sites across the county (some seeming somewhat unlikely), we now have a much more reliable picture of where we still might have possible breeding birds. We have positively identified 12 sites where Curlews were present from early spring this year and in Atlas terms nine of these were ‘Probable’ and three were ‘Possible’ breeding sites. Unfortunately, we were unable to confirm breeding at any of these sites. I believe there were two factors involved in our failure. Firstly, as mentioned in my previous updates, the nature of most of our sites made it rather difficult to pin down where birds heard calling might actually be settling to nest. Most possible sites consisted of several large fields separated by hedges and calling might be heard from any one of them over a period of time – where do you start looking when these birds are so mobile? Secondly, none of our observers (myself included) realised what a challenge to find this bird is! In retrospect, I think we should have been prepared for a lot more fieldwork than actually took place – not always easy when people have jobs and other commitments to attend to, but something we definitely have to bear in mind for next year. I wonder whether some time might be devoted to these challenges at the next Slimbridge Forum meeting so that the “old hands” might pass on useful information to us Herefordshire newbies?

Chris Robinson:



Twenty-two nests were successfully located this breeding season, and more pairs were monitored in the area. This year we did not put cameras on the nests but started to intervene against predators which have been found to be the major cause of nest failure in the two previous years.  Electric fencing was used to protect as many nests as possible and fox control was implemented in two trial areas.   Twenty-eight chicks hatched from the 12 nests that survived beyond egg stage. Crows, not hitherto a problem, were responsible for a number of nest failures at egg stage this year.

Many of the chicks were radio tagged so that we could relocate them on return visits to find out where they were moving to and if they were still alive. Three broods of chicks were observed to near fledging or fledging stage, and we estimate that somewhere between 3 (based on most recent chick sightings) and 8 (based on chick numbers before tags dropped off and adult observations) chicks successfully fledged.

We have observed the chicks travelling quite large distances away from the original nest site, and that even once they have started to fly they will not necessarily fly away from approaching danger, choosing instead to crouch down and hide as they would when younger chicks.   Curlew Cam also gave us interesting insights into how vocal the chicks and parents are as the eggs approach the time when the chicks start to hatch.

The next stage in the project is to work out what can be done to protect these chicks and give them the best chance of survival. This season has given us a great deal of new knowledge pertaining to Curlew nesting and chick rearing, which we hope to build on in the next season in order to better their chances.

The Curlew Country project’s host, the Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Country Landscape Partnership Scheme, comes to an end in March 2018.  Legacy to ensure the aims of the project through continuing its momentum and structure is urgently being considered.

For more information please see

Amanda Perkins:


Upper Thames river valleys, Oxfordshire

This year, a team of volunteers helped the RSPB survey 52 sites – mostly on farmed floodplain meadows or pasture – as part of the Upper Thames wader project. Using the standard method for breeding waders, initial figures suggest they recorded at least 36 pairs of Curlew, although we’re still waiting on some data. Right now, this appears to be a decrease compared to 2016.

Fencing a Curlew nest (Kirsty Brennan)

In addition, up to 23 of those sites were visited more frequently – up to every week – during the breeding season to gather more detailed information on Curlew behaviour and productivity. Of the ten nests found and monitored, four hatched successfully, with the others succumbing to mammalian predation or human disturbance. (This hatching rate is a slight increase than was reported in June, as it was only through careful examination of the temperature sensor data that we confirmed one nest had hatched, despite a lack of clear field evidence some days later.)

As was reported previously, this project is unable to assess fledging success reliably. The tall vegetation, open terrain and relative lack of equipment make it quite challenge to monitor the birds without disturbing them or their habitat. However, juveniles, or adult behaviour indicating young, were reported at five sites after the survey period closed. Even without fledging rates, it’s clear from the hatching rates alone that the last two breeding seasons across the Upper Thames have failed to reach the productivity target of 0.48-0.62 fledglings per pair for population stability.

Hatched Curlew eggs (Kirsty Brennan)

The two years of detailed Curlew study across the Upper Thames have underlined the importance of hay meadows for this species locally. Unlike other lowland waders, wet pasture seems to be a secondary habitat. Predator pressure is a key challenge; with a small number of exceptions, most land managers in the area do not have resources or incentive to undertake fox control.

Post-breeding fieldwork looking at vegetation and soil characteristics have also highlighted how variable soil condition is. Some floodplain meadows have well-structured soils with high organic content and invertebrate abundance, whilst reworked or intensively cattle-grazed soils can be markedly compacted. It would be reasonable to assume Curlew could be sensitive to these variations, particularly early in the breeding season.

Temperature logger, showing tooth marks! (Kirsty Brennan)

We’re organising feedback meetings for volunteer surveyors and supporting farmers to review results in early September. Individual site results should be given to those involved in the autumn, and an internal report completed towards the end of the calendar year.

Kirsty Brannan:


Salisbury Plain & Stonehenge World Heritage Site

Monitoring continued into July with the hope of re-sighting young and confirming fledged juveniles: unfortunately, none were seen. A disappointing result given that two of our five monitored nests successfully hatched.

Results for the 2017 breeding season therefore:

  • Six breeding pairs confirmed. An additional two pairs were recorded with no evidence of breeding, and it cannot be concluded with an acceptable level of confidence that these were not possibly birds from (failed) confirmed pairs – so definitely six pairs, possibly seven or eight. This represents an increase of one breeding pair on 2016.
  • Five nests were found. Two failed at egg stage, nests being found empty and no adults present on visits prior to hatch date. One nest appeared to have been predated during hatching, a visit on the projected hatch date revealed one hatched egg and no evidence of the other three eggs and no adults present. The two remaining nests hatched all four eggs, at least one chick was seen with the adults at one, at the other adults only were seen the day after hatching and not subsequently.

Given the success in other areas with fencing nests in an effort to increase hatching success, it would seem a good plan to do the same in south Wiltshire. Unfortunately, we are constrained in this on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) training area, due to the public nature of the sites where the birds are nesting; it is, however, a possibility on private land beyond the MoD boundary, so this is something we will be considering next year.

Special thanks to Granville Pictor for all his time in helping out with fieldwork again this year, and thanks also to those on the Plain who facilitated our access to restricted areas.

Philip Sheldrake:


North Wiltshire

There had been no reports of Curlew in the North Wiltshire area in the previous year, 2016, other than a few ad hoc records. It is very encouraging then that volunteers have reported up to five possible nest sites in 2017.

Possibly two pairs have nested at a Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Reserve.  We suspect that the chicks hatched from at least one of these nests but have no confirmed sightings of fledging.

Another two pairs have been seen reported from a ridge towards Purton. These need more investigation in coming years.

A further two nest sites have been reported from a new area along the length of a small brook. This is particularly exciting as previous studies have not picked up Curlew in this area. The two nest sites are both on private farmland and very luckily both volunteers who have reported these sightings are well versed and experienced in talking to farmers and landowners. It seems at least one of these farmers has been taking measures to protect the nest sites.

So, after a late start to our first season (I had a lot to learn!) this year has been every encouraging.  Two new areas to explore and still work to complete in visiting the historical sites; 2018 looks very exciting.

Neil Pullen:



A detailed overview of our Eurasian Curlew study was given in the June edition of the Newsletter. For readers who are not familiar with our work, we are monitoring Curlews across approximately 3,700 hectares of grass heath habitat in the Norfolk/Suffolk Brecks. Across our study area, we are exploring the impacts of different physical ground disturbance treatments on multiple taxonomic groups. Curlew is one of our study species.

Our Curlew fieldwork has now finished for 2017. In total, we located 23 nests from 21 breeding pairs; however, because access across part of our study site is prohibitive (due to military restrictions), the total number of breeding pairs will be higher than this. Of the 23 breeding attempts monitored – 17 failed at the egg stage, 2 failed at the chick stage, and 4 fledged at least one chick (five chicks fledged in total).  Most of the breeding attempts which failed at the egg stage were predated at night, which suggests that mammalian predators (most likely foxes) are the biggest culprit. As reported in the last update, preliminary results suggest that the experimental ground disturbance treatments are providing a suitable nesting habitat and an important foraging resource.

Robert Hawkes, Jennifer Smart and Helen Jones
(contact or for further information)


New Forest

Most of the New Forest results for 2017 were covered in the last newsletter, with about 42 territories being comparable to the 40 found in 2016, and a total of nine nests located (although nest-finding efforts were limited this year). However, we subsequently received news in July of at least three nests successfully hatching chicks, two of which involved single birds close to fledging. The actual number of fledged chicks in the New Forest will likely be higher, but getting proof of fledging with a small pool of volunteer observers covering extensive wet heath and bog habitats is challenging!

Further analysis of the nest temperature loggers deployed this year has revealed indirect evidence for successful hatching, and that nocturnal predation was a likely of nest failure in some cases. They also revealed some interesting behaviour, with a bird at one predated nest sporadically continuing incubation for a few hours before finally deserting. A couple of the loggers that were deployed beneath Curlew nests mysteriously disappeared, with the likely culprit thought to be inquisitive crows rooting around in the bottom of predated nests! We are pleased to confirm funding of £1000 from the New Forest Association to support this temperature logger work, which has enabled us to purchase enough devices to continue with deployments in 2018 and 2019.

An example dataset from a nest and control logger from one of the 2017 New Forest sites, where successful hatching occurred, is featured below.

Russ Wynn:

Summary of Curlew nests and fledged young in southern England in 2017
(based on regional reports in this Newsletter)

Important note: The figures in this table are very approximate and not to be taken as definitive. They are offered merely as a rough guide to the number of nesting pairs and fledged young produced in southern England.

AreaTerritorial PairsNesting PairsNumber of
young fledged
Somerset Levels19-2119-218
Severn and Avon
(Glos and Worcs)
Upper Thames36235
South Wiltshire861?
North Wiltshire66?
New Forest429-423
(absolute minimum)
Totals200-203 pairs143 -179 pairs28-33 fledged young

Curlew’s Return (Gordon Kirk)

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